Lesson Plan Feature: Cycling Water Through the Environment

With the spring thaw, here’s a lesson  for grades 3-5 from PBS LearningMedia to teach students that water is a crucial ingredient for life on Earth.  They’ll also come to see that the water cycle is Earth’s natural mechanism for transporting, cleansing, and recycling water between the surface and the atmosphere. In this lesson, students recognize the different forms that water takes and learn about where it exists in the environment. Through class discussion and experiments, students model the water cycle and explore how it can be used to create fresh water.


  • Understand that water exists in the environment in different forms
  • Identify the ways that water moves through the environment
  • Recognize that most of Earth’s surface is covered by water but that only a small amount is fresh water
  • Produce fresh water from salty water by distilling it

Resources include great images of Water Phases (for grades K-5) and an interactive on Global Water Distribution (for grades 3-12) as well as  many short, engaging videos.